Volume 15 | Issue 1 | Year 2012

When it comes to riding, women once had to position themselves sidesaddle.

Not so today – thanks to Viper Motorcycle Company. Its sports bikes enable women to straddle an iron horse, just like men.

“Our products have proven to be very popular with women, as they have a low center of gravity,” says Colbert Seagraves, the company’s vice president of marketing. “Women can easily handle the bikes we offer.”

So can a host of others. Amusement park rides post signs that restrict riders by foot-tall measurement. But Viper Motorcycle Company, which is based in Auburn, AL., in the heart of carnival territory – “keep hands and feet inside of car” – makes no constriction.

Of course, it’s not recommended that young children ride the wild road, but for adults – whether rmale or female – and no matter their size, Viper accommodates. “We have a proprietary air-ride system design, and that means that whether you are five-foot-three or six-foot-seven, you are going to feel comfortable on this motorcycle,” says Seagraves. “It’s adjustable on the fly, so riders can make adjustments on the road. We have about three inches of adjustments in the controls, so we have pretty much made our bikes fit anyone.”

On the road – it’s a title of a Jack Kerouac novel, but it also describes the nature of the product. Viper, which is a wholly-owned division of Viper Powersports, Inc., places the most adventurous on the road, as it designs, builds and sells a line of premium V-Twin Super Cruiser motorcycles, V-Twin aftermarket engines and related aftermarket products through an independent dealer network.

The product is as much a reliable ride as it is a fashion statement. So who buys? “The sports enthusiast who seeks something different than a Harley or a custom bike,” replies Seagraves. “Our product not only provides dependability and durability but alsoserves those that want to go fast and look good.”

That gets back to women: belted, buckled, booted and helmet-hooded – and straddling a well-designed vehicle – they look attractive. But it’s far more than just about a fashion statement. “People want a bike that’s going to last long, and that’s what we offer,” says Seagraves. “We’ve built the world’s best ‘Super Cruiser’ – that’s what we call it. Most of the people who like our motorcycles are transitioning from other sports bikes but still want the sports bike feel, which they get from our models, and our motorcycles have the largest production V-Twin engine.”

That’s thanks to a partnership with the Plymouth, Michigan-based Ilmor Engineering.

“In 2009, we entered into a joint venture agreement,” relates Seagraves. “We partnered with Ilmor so that they could help us develop our bike engines. They started with our proprietary design and essentially made it ‘bullet proof,’ so to speak. We have yet to witness an engine failure.

So what makes this engine so remarkable? “You’re talking about a 150-plus cubic inch Viper V-Twin engine, with 165-foot pounds of torque, and 130 horsepower to the rear wheel on a 660-pound motorcycle,” answers Seagraves.

Specifically, the Viper designed and engineered engine measures 152 cubic inches, and it’s the most powerful production VTwin on the market, as the company describes.

Seagraves adds, “Everything is all American made, except for the hand controls, which are produced in Germany, and the forks, made in Italy.”

Indeed, more than 80 percent of Viper product is proprietary and most component parts are CNC-machined from billet aluminum, incorporating distinctive patented technology, according to the company. As far as the partnership, Ilmor Engineering provides technical developmental support for the proprietary engine, utilizing its 25 years of engine design expertise, ensuring Viper’s longterm success as America’s newest domestic OEM of motorcycles.

“Currently, our production facilities are located in Auburn,” informs Seagraves. “We moved into that location, shifting from Minnesota, in 2011. So we transitioned from a 12,000-square foot-facility and into a 63,000-square-foot facility. Our company started building motorcycles, in a small number, in 2004. It continually upgraded products, particularly engines. But the engines proved unsuitable for our production level. That led to the partnership with Ilmor. That company was formed about 25 years ago and it has built race and championship winning Indy Car and Formula 1 engines. Subsequently, that company diversified.”

Recently, Viper gained substantial media share when its product was featured on The Edge with Terry Bradshaw. The program sought a unique motorcycle to be included in an upcoming segment. Viper’s Diamondback fit the bill. The 2011 Diamondback is the third-generation Super Cruiser and features the Ilmor-Viper engine. Measuring 152 cubic inches, the equipment is an all billet, short stroke twin that produces exceptional torque and power. That engine is coupled with Viper’s proprietary powertrain vibration dampening system. This matchup results in the world’s most powerful V-Twin, as the company reports. The Diamondback is built for speed, but it also demonstrates superior handling and unmatched dependability.

Company Chief Executive Officer John Silseth always had a passion for motorcycles, says Seagraves, and the Diamondback is a fulfillment of his vision. “He saw a niche that wasn’t attached to something like a Harley,” says Seagraves. “His answer was the Viper Diamondback, which offers the performance of a super bike. It has the handling of a sport bike; the looks of a one-off show winning custom and the dependability and durability of an OEM manufactured motorcycle. The Diamondback essentially provides the best of all worlds in a single vehicle.”

The five-minute Edge segment was time enough to demonstrate the product’s mix of handling, dependability, and speed, as well as the company’s symbiotic relationship with Ilmor. In addition, that show allowed Viper to preview its upcoming Mamba and GT-1 Trike products. The Mamba is set for release in mid 2012, informs Seagraves.

Meanwhile, Viper Motorcycle Company races forward, charting a course on international roads. In December 2011, it established an agreement with AMV Motorcycles for exclusive distributorship for the United Kingdom and the European Continent.

At this point, it’s probably appropriate to recall the theme song to the 1969 film, “Easy Rider,” even if the lyrics refer to water and not asphalt:
“The River flows/
It flows to the sea/
Wherever that river goes/
That’s where I want to be.”

And Viper, with its new relationships, will be wherever anyone wants to ride.

This company flows.

Previous articleEnergy Engineer
Next articleTrusted Toolmaker